Rick DiPietro returns tonight for Islanders against Buffalo

The recent stretch of games that’s seen the Islanders go with a rookie rotation featuring goaltending luminaries like Nathan Lawson and Kevin Poulin is about to come to an end. Islander-for-life Rick DiPietro will be starting tonight against Buffalo after missing the last five games with a groin injury. The timing of DiPietro’s latest injury was made more awkward thanks to the Isles trading Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay just two days before that.

Since DiPietro’s injury, the Isles have gone 1-2-2 with their pair of youngsters holding things down in goal. While Nathan Lawson is technically the backup goalie now on Long Island, it was Kevin Poulin who seemed to play better. It’s no coincidence that Poulin earned the Islanders lone victory during DiPietro’s absence. Either way though, the Islanders are opting to go with a very inexperienced backup to play behind the NHL’s seemingly most fragile goaltender.

The Islanders opted to pass on picking up Michael Leighton when he was put on waivers just a couple weeks ago. Signing Leighton would’ve given them an NHL-caliber goalie to split time with DiPietro and start when DiPietro was out with an injury. Apparently his price tag ($1.55 million cap hit this year and next) was too much for the salary cap floor scraping Islanders to want to take on.

As for how long DiPietro lasts this time around, given his myriad of injuries it’s almost impossible to think he makes it to the end of the season without another stint on the injured list.

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